'Like a roller coaster' - Coeur d'Alene Press: Business

'Like a roller coaster'

Silverwood's up-and-down silver anniversary season winds down

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Posted: Sunday, September 2, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 10:17 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

ATHOL - After the sun, and rain, and sun again, the silver anniversary is coming to a close.

Labor Day marks the last day Silverwood Theme Park water slides will be open, and after the three-day weekend the summer destination will shift to only weekend hours for September.

And after it turns itself into a park of horrors for its autumn tradition, Scarywood, the 25th season for the North Idaho tourist destination will wrap up.

"Like a roller coaster," said Silverwood spokeswoman Nancy DiGiammarco, keeping in theme when describing how the summer season went for the business. "The weather turned, thank goodness, and so did our numbers."

May saw an attendance increase of 18 percent from the year before. Much of May, if you can remember, was sunny. Then June and July hit. More specifically, the rain hit, as record levels for those months fell across the region. That slowed visits to the park, but by August North Idaho was locked in a heat wave, and guests came out of the woodwork.

Up, down, up, just like those famous rides.

"Funny how things change in a day," DiGiammarco said.

All and all, the silver season was a success, she said. The park is expected to host 660,000 visitors this year, up from last year's 654,000. The bump is magnified by the fact that the park didn't add any attractions this year, and a plateau in numbers is considered a success in today's economy.

But it's not over yet.

The slides are still open through Labor Day, which could be the last "prime weekend," where 11,000 people visit on a good day.

DiGiammarco credits strategic advertising in far away markets like western Washington as key to the theme park's ever-growing popularity. On Friday that reach was evident as guests from across the Northwest, New York and Ohio stopped by.

(Upon entering the park guests are asked to give their zip code as a way to track from where people are coming.)

"It's better than a lot of what we have in Oregon," said Mitch McDowell, 15, of Oregon who was tearing down water slides with his younger brother Jacob on Friday, both of whom gave the park "A" grades. "I've heard about it for a while but we never made it down before today."

Whether the park adds new attractions next year will be determined later, after the annual convention in November where new rides are showcased to park owners. The park is adding a little something to this year's Scarywood, the Halloween horror show, but mum's the word on details.

Until then, there's the 25th summer season to wrap up, from water slides to roller coasters and food stands.

"We try and do it all," said Deana McIntyre, visiting the park in a group of 18 friends and family from Port Angeles, Wash., a visit she does nearly every year. "The kids love it and they try and do it all too."

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